RANGOON — Chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi will continue to lead the National League for Democracy (NLD), despite holding ministerial positions that constitutionally ban her from party activities, according to the NLD spokesperson.
Burma’s 2008 Constitution states that if a government minister is a member of any political party, “[they] shall not take part in its party activities during the term of office, from the day [they are] appointed as a Union minister.”
After her nomination by President-elect Htin Kyaw, Suu Kyi was approved as a Cabinet member on March 24; her portfolio of multiple ministerial positions in foreign affairs, education, the President’s office and electric power and energy was approved on Wednesday by the Union Parliament, designating her the new government’s “super minister.”
The NLD spokesperson Zaw Myint Maung told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the Noble Peace Laureate will remain “the leader” of the party she has presided over since its formation in 1988.
“She will no longer be involved in the party’s activities, but she will be still the party leader,” he explained. “The constitution doesn’t say you have to leave the party if you take a Union minister position.”
An NLD-government will take power on April 1, after being sworn in at Parliament on Wednesday and winning a sweeping victory in the general election of 2015. During this time, Zaw Myint Maung explained that the party’s leadership will be supplemented by a newly formed five-member secretariat and the party’s existing central executive committee (CEC).
The group is made up of NLD senior members, including Win Htein, Nyan Win, Lower House Speaker Win Myint, Han Tha Myint as well as spokesperson Zaw Myint Maung.
Asked whether Suu Kyi would be involved in serious party decisions, the spokesperson said that the NLD’s CEC team has the experience and ability to handle any situations which arise.
“The NLD survived the difficult period when she was under house arrest,” Zaw Myint Maung said of Suu Kyi’s 15 years in detainment. “The situation now is not as serious as it was. We can collectively make it, if needed,” he said.
Even in Burma’s previous military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) administration, it was ambiguous whether those with an executive position in the government could retain the top position in a political party.
In 2015, former president Thein Sein resumed a leadership role within the USDP after he purged party chairman Shwe Mann from the position. Shwe Mann was originally selected for the role in 2013 as a replacement for Thein Sein, who, as President could no longer be involved in “party activities.”